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By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, who is now an analyst with ESPN, says there’s no way to truly appreciate the way coach John Calipari has recruited at UK. Kentucky could be in line to have a fifth straight No. 1-ranked recruiting class under Calipari.
“It’s hard to predict something like that could even happen,” Pearl said. “Certainly John at a place like Kentucky is a perfect marriage. I said the day they hired him that they could not have put anybody better in that position. Kentucky fans worry if you are winning so much that you will leave and if you are losing they pack your bags. But John is great with all that.
“John loves the game and the history of the game. He also wants to put (national championship) banners up on his watch. I think he is working harder now than he ever has. I coached against him a long time. He did one of the best coaching jobs in the history of college basketball when he was at UMass (and took the team to the 1996 Final Four). It’s one of the top four all-time coaching jobs. They didn’t do much before he got there or after he left.”
Pearl says he has seen Calipari “evolve” into a truly elite coach in recent years.
“I see John Calipari running better stuff and he’s much tougher to coach against now than he was when he first started coaching at Memphis,” Pearl said. “They did a little bit of everything then, but they don’t do as much now. However, what they do, they do very, very well. They do fewer things and do them so well that’s why everybody wants to play for him.”